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What is a parenting plan?

On Behalf of | Feb 26, 2024 | Family Law |

A parenting plan is a document that outlines how parents will approach the task of co-parenting in the wake of a separation or divorce. It serves as a roadmap, detailing the arrangements for a child’s care and the obligations and rights of both parents.

When a parenting plan is formalized and approved by the court, it serves as a legally enforceable document. A well-designed parenting plan can significantly reduce the potential for conflict and misunderstandings between parents, while providing a stable and predictable environment for their child.

What does a parenting plan typically contain?

A parenting plan usually covers the essential aspects of a child’s daily life, including living arrangements, education, health care and how decisions regarding the child will be made. It addresses the practicalities of parenting from separate households and seeks to establish a cooperative framework for the parents to follow.

This plan is not a one-size-fits-all document. Rather, it should be tailored to fit the unique needs and circumstances of the child and the family involved. Take, for example, a child’s parenting schedule. This schedule can detail when the child will spend time at each parent’s home, including school days, weekends, holidays and vacations. As families have unique needs in this regard, one child’s parenting time schedule will not necessarily mirror another’s.

A parenting plan can also outline how parents will communicate with each other and with their child when they’re not under the same roof. Effective communication is crucial for co-parenting success, and the plan may specify methods and frequency of communication, as well as guidelines for discussing issues related to the child.

A comprehensive parenting plan may also include provisions for resolving disputes and protocols for how decisions regarding the child’s welfare will be made. Parents can also get creative, detailing virtually anything that significantly concerns their co-parenting arrangement.

If you and your ex are trying to figure out how you’re going to co-parent effectively, seeking legal guidance when drafting a parenting plan is generally wise. There is just too much at stake for a “DIY” approach to this consequential document.